Panningridge iron furnace site


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Sussex
Rother (District Authority)
East Sussex
Rother (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 68738 17518


Panningridge furnace and iron works, 290m north-west of Rocks Farm

Reasons for Designation

Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry, spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance peaking with the Industrial Revolution.

Iron ores occur in a variety of forms across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques and structures. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small, relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced from the 16th century by blast furnaces, such as that found at Panningridge, which were larger and operated at a higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge, but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to more sophisticated types of furnaces.

Panningridge furnace and iron works is an important site, which survives well. It is the only 16th century blast furnace where the building (1542) and operational accounts (1542-1563) are known to survive. The site has added significance in the retention of its local landscape context; managed woodlands that have a continuous history from the 16th century onwards. It retains potential for further archaeological investigation, particularly regarding the dendro-sampling of wheel-pit timbers that survive below-ground.


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This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes Panningridge furnace, a 16th century blast furnace used to smelt iron ores, and its associated features surviving as earthworks and buried archaeological remains. It is situated at Panningridge Wood, at the foot of Ashburnham Valley in the Weald, through which flows Gifford’s Gill Stream. The site includes an earth dam, blast furnace, wheel-pit, water system and slag heaps. The dam is situated at the north end of the site, crossing the stream, and is as an earthwork 1.5m to 2.5m in height, breached in two places. The iron working area and slag heaps are located to the south.

It was partially excavated between 1964 and 1969, which revealed the plan of the furnace and wheel-pit with, superimposed, traces of a later robbed structure now seen to be a second furnace, and an associated water-channel. These provide evidence, alongside documentary sources for two periods of iron smelting on the site. The excavation trenches were backfilled leaving the furnace base in position, and the timbers of the earliest wheel-pit undisturbed. The operational accounts of the furnace survive between 1542 and 1563. It was first built for Sir William Sidney in 1542 and produced pig iron until about 1563, by which time evidence suggests the pond had silted up. It was then rebuilt some 1.2m higher then the previous structure and was last known to have operated in about 1586. By 1611, the furnace was no longer standing.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ES 386
Legacy System:


Crossley, D. 1991. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme. Industrial Monuments: The Iron and Steel Industries. Step 3 report. Version O (Site Assessment 66). ,
NMR TQ61NE5. PastScape 411974,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing